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Academic Misconduct - FAQ

What is the Faculty Disposition Form?

This form is used by faculty in academic misconduct situations (i.e., cheating, plagiarism, etc.). The form allows you to indicate if the student accepts responsibility for the alleged violation and you have resolved the matter together, or if you are referring it to us due to circumstances impeding resolution.


Why should I submit the Faculty Disposition to the Center? Can't I just handle it on my own?

While this may be a students first incident in your course, it does not mean the student does not have prior incidents on campus.  Materials are encouraged to be submitted to the Center of Student Conduct to track reoccuring incidents and patterns while maintaining accurate, current and confidential records of academic misconduct. 

Full procedures and suggestions for speaking with students about these issues are outlined here. Staff members are available for consultation at 510-643-9069 or at studentconduct@berkeley.edu if you have questions.


Which office normally handles student conduct matters?
Matters concerning student conduct (i.e., alleged violations of University Policies and/or campus regulations regarding the activity of students) are handled by the Center for Student Conduct at 205 Sproul Hall, 510.643.9069. Additional questions concerning student conduct can be answered by calling this number.


Why does one office handle all of the student conduct matters?
There are two main reasons for having student conduct matters handled by one office:

  • Consistency. It is important that these matters are handled carefully and in a consistent manner. For example a de-centralized system might be characterized by very different outcomes or sanctions in similar cases of misconduct.
  • Record-keeping. Having centralized records allows the University to monitor students who have violated policy. A de-centralized system would make it difficult to determine if students have committed repeat violations.

What is the jurisdiction of the University?
The University has jurisdiction over student conduct that occurs on University property and with a designated area around the campus (i.e. Geographic Box), or in connection with official University functions whether on or off University property. Although the University will not routinely invoke its disciplinary processes over student conduct that occurs outside the Geographic Box, the University has discretion to exercise such jurisdiction. The University also has jurisdiction over student conduct that occurs on other UC campuses. (see the UCB Code of Student Conduct for more specific information regarding jurisdiction).

*In determining whether or not to exercise jurisdiction over such conduct, Student Conduct will consider the seriousness of the alleged offense, the risk of harm involved, whether the victim(s) are members of the campus community and/or whether the off-campus conduct is part of a series of actions that occurred both on and off University property.


Who may make an allegation against a student?
Anyone may file a complaint.


How will the student be notified if someone has made an allegation against them?
Student Conduct will contact students when a complaint has been received. Notice of allegations is sent via email to the most recent email address on file with the University. Notice will include a statement about when and where the alleged violation occurred, and what allegedly happened. Letters of notice will also provide a time by which the accused student must contact the office to schedule an appointment.


What does a student do after receiving notice?
Contact the Center at 510.643.9069 to schedule an appointment. Some students seek advice from the ASUC Student Advocates Office 510.642.6912, Ombuds Services, or Student Legal Services. The accused student is encouraged to contact the Center by the date indicated on the Notice of Possible Violation (also known as a PVN) or Student Conduct Referral form if they would like to participate in resolution of the case.


What is an initial meeting?
If you are requested to schedule an initial meeting, you have been referred to the Center for Student Conduct office because you *may* have violated the Code of Student Conduct . In your letter or referral, you will find information about the allegation(s). During the initial meeting, you will meet with a staff member where she/he will go over the parts of the Code of Student Conduct including the conduct process, student’s rights and responsibilities (there is a handout), as well as give the student the opportunity to discuss the allegation(s). Some of the most common possible outcomes to this meeting include:

  1. the allegations may be dismissed;
  2. the staff may need to gather further information regarding the allegation(s) ; or
  3. your case may be resolved informally with the staff member.

What is an informal resolution?
Students charged with Code violations are offered the opportunity to meet with Student Conduct to resolve their case without a formal hearing. Cases may be resolved informally if the charged student, at any time prior to the hearing, admits violating the Code as charged or otherwise accepts an informal resolution.

If the Student Conduct Officer and the student reach a mutually acceptable agreement regarding sanctions, no hearing will be held. A student agreeing to an informal resolution must understand that by accepting the informal resolution he or she is waiving his or her rights to a hearing and any further appeal. If no agreement is reached, the matter will proceed to a hearing.


What is an administrative hearing?
In the Code of Student Conduct cases, a staff member can resolve a case through an administrative meeting. A student may choose to have their case resolved through an administrative hearing. If a student does not contact Student Conduct to discussion resolution of their case, the case will be resolved through an administrative hearing process. An administrative hearing would be held in a student’s absence only if suspension or dismissal was not to be considered as an outcome following a finding of responsibility.

 


What is a panel hearing?
A hearing before the Hearing Panel is a more formal process for resolving a complaint. The Hearing Panel is made up of student members, faculty members, and staff members who review the allegations and render a decision. If a student is found "responsible" for the alleged violation(s), the panel will recommend appropriate sanctions.

The panel hearing is formal and students are able to present witnesses and documents to support their case. Students may elect to have an advisor. Witnesses are subject to questioning. Upon hearing the evidence, the hearing panel must find by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) that the student is either responsible or not responsible.


What if a student is responsible for violating University policies and/or campus regulations?
If a student admits to violating University policies and/or campus regulations, or is found responsible in a hearing, he or she should expect to be sanctioned. Sanctions range from a Warning to Dismissal from the University. The Center for Student Conduct strives to impose sanctions that are appropriate given the violation.


What if a student is not responsible?
If a student is able to provide a plausible explanation for the circumstances that led to the allegation, and if there is evidence to support that claim, the matter will likely be dropped. However, if the student denies the allegation, and in the judgment of Student Conduct, there is evidence indicating that the student is responsible, the staff may refer the matter to a hearing.


What is an advisor?
The Code of Student Conduct stipulates that a student may have an advisor (anyone who is not involved in the complaint) with them during the student conduct process. One of the primary goals of the student conduct process is that of being an integral part of the student’s total learning experience. The accused student has the primary responsibility for presenting his/her side of the case, with the advisor serving in a supportive and advisory capacity. The advisor may not represent or speak for the student.

A student may have an advisor of their choosing accompany them at any point in the conduct process.


Should a student need to hire an attorney?
Students may have an attorney serve as an advisor but may not be represented by counsel. Students most often hire attorneys when there are criminal charges that relate to an incident. The accused student has the primary responsibility for presenting his/her side of the case, with the advisor serving in a supportive and advisory capacity. The attorney may not represent or speak for the student.

*Hearings and other proceedings at an educational institution do not follow the same procedures used in courtrooms. The university does not employ lawyers to "prosecute" students or apply the rules of evidence used in civil or criminal trial.


What if a student is facing criminal charges?
Students are expected to represent themselves in all student conduct matters, whether or not the student is also facing concurrent criminal charges for the same set of circumstances. Students facing criminal charges may have an attorney present, in the role of their advisor, during all student conduct proceedings, but the attorney is restricted from any participation in the proceedings. In addition, Student Conduct will correspond at all times directly with the student, and not through any third party.


What will happen if the student exercises their right not to participate in the student conduct process?
The process will continue with or without the student's involvement, and a decision will be reached based on the information that is provided to the hearing body. The student may not use his or her refusal to participate as a later ground for appealing a decision.


What if the student chooses to participate in the process; is he or she granted any immunity in the criminal process?
No. All student conduct matters are subject to lawful subpoena. This includes tape recordings, written statements and records, and personal recollections. In fact, the University may have to contact the appropriate law enforcement agency if violations of the law become evident through the student conduct process.


What is the "standard of proof" in the student conduct process?
Decisions with respect to student responsibility for alleged actions are made based on a preponderance of the evidence; that is, the hearing panel or administrator will determine what is "more likely than not" to have taken place.


Can a hearing be delayed due to criminal charges?
The student conduct process is not attempting to determine whether or not a student has violated the law; the University is trying to determine whether or not a student violated University rules and regulations.

As such, the goals and the means of the criminal justice process and the student conduct process are dissimilar. Typically, no delays are given to students to accommodate their interests in the criminal process. Delays may only be granted when it is established to the satisfaction of the Student Conduct Director that such a delay is in the interest of the University.


Isn't the student conduct process double-jeopardy for someone also facing criminal charges?

No. "Double-jeopardy" is a concept that applies solely to criminal proceedings. Criminal proceedings do not in any way offer exemptions from civil or administrative proceedings.


Why isn't the student being afforded the same protections that he or she would receive in the criminal process?
The courts have long recognized the differing interests of the University community from that of the criminal justice process. Since 1961, a significant body of case law has been established that outlines basic expectations of fairness in any student disciplinary process. The University of California Berkeley’s due process protections meet or exceed any required by the courts.


What is an interim suspension?
In cases involving behavior that is willfully disruptive or presents a threat to the health or safety of others, interim suspension may be invoked in addition to the initiation of conduct action. A student will be restricted only to the minimum extent necessary when there is reasonable cause to believe that the student's participation in University activities or presence at specified areas of the campus will lead to physical abuse, threats of violence, or conduct that threatens the health or safety of any person on University property or at official University functions, or other disruptive activity incompatible with the orderly operation of the campus.

A student placed on Interim Suspension will be given prompt notice of the reason for the Interim Suspension and will remain on Interim Suspension pending the outcome of the full conduct process unless the student requests a hearing to have the interim suspension reviewed. Only the hearing panel can lift, modify, or dismiss the Interim Suspension.


What is a stayed suspension?
The suspension would be held in abeyance and students would be allowed to continue to attend class. At the conclusion of a period of stayed suspension the sanction would often be lowered to a warning or disciplinary probation (whatever is listed as the outcome in the administrative disposition) as long as he or she was not charged with other conduct violations during the stayed suspension period. However, if a student was under stayed suspension but went on to violate campus regulations during the period of the stayed suspension, he or she would face suspension.

A stayed suspension may also be recommended as an outcome in a hearing process, with the same conditions as mentioned above.


How long is a conduct record kept?
Records are confidential and are typically kept for seven years from the date of notice of the final resolution of the conduct case. At the end of seven years, records concerning most cases are destroyed. Cases that resulted in an outcome of dismissal are kept indefinitely.

In compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), all conduct records are considered confidential records, with exceptions noted in FERPA. Only those persons authorized by the student or by Student Conduct  may have access to these records.


Where can I find out more information about FERPA?
FERPA is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education. The Department maintains a FERPA website (with links to FERPA regulations) at: http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html


What records does FERPA cover?
The privacy protection FERPA gives to students is very broad. With limited exceptions discussed below, part 99.3 of the FERPA regulations gives privacy protection to all student education records. Education records are defined as "[t]hose records that are directly related to a student and [are] [m]aintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution." Examples of student records entitled to FERPA privacy protection are grade reports, transcripts, and most disciplinary files.


What does it mean to say a record is "protected" by FERPA?
Unless personally identifiable information from a student's education record falls under a specified exception, the information cannot be released to third parties (including parents) without signed and dated written consent from the student.